Herb(s) of the Week – Elder Flower (Part 2 – Wrap Up)

Posted on December 4, 2011. Filed under: Herb(s) of the Week | Tags: , , |

English: Elder Flower Just waiting to be picke...

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I’m wrapping up my week of exploring Elder (Sambucus Nigra) so it’s time for the sum up and a look back.  It’s always expected to have a litany of what it does as part of the repeated wisdom of herbalists old and new.

So vaguely to the tune of the old gospel song, Dem Dry Bones:

Elder works to heal all things
Elder works to heal all things
Elder works to heal all things
I see the working of the plants.

Elder is good for fever
Elder is good for sweating
Elder is good for digestion
Elder is good for blood flow
Elder is good for colds
Elder is good for allergies
Elder is good for infections
Elder is good for the sinuses
Elder regulates the bowels
I see the working of the plants.

More seriously elder is just good for lots of things, but being more effective for one thing or another depending on whether you are working fresh or dried with the flowers, leaves, berries or bark. And can be prepared for medicinal use effectively in a number or ways as well (teas, tincture, vinegars, poultices, etc.) It’s one of those plants where you actually could learn to use it scores of ways as a medicine chest by itself.

References of Note: One of the most through references on it is Matthew Wood’s Book of Herbal Wisdom or his Earthwise Herbal: Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants, but I found the chapter in the first book much more comprehensive. While the books Backyard Medicine by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal and Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Andrew Chevallier have excellent briefer explanations of the highlights.

While not a reference of the caliber of those, the books Herbal Rituals by Judith Berger and Tree Medicine, Tree Magic by Ellen Evert Hopman were interesting and worthwhile reads with great recipes including vinegars, brandies, baths and pickles that I’ll definitely check out some time.

My own take: I went into the week most looking forward to exploring it’s abilities with helping sinus issues and congestion. But that wasn’t the aspect that stuck me most when exploring it this week. Instead what really spoke to me was the normalizing effects on the bowels. Despite some extremely varied eating this week, elder worked well keeping things fairly under control. I’m kind of struck by, and interesting in playing around with, the notion of a digestive tea blend of elder, chamomile and ginger. I have the feeling that would be fairly useful.

Lastly, I also found (so not what you’ll pick up in books) that hot elder flower tea with home made lavender infused honey is amazing beyond words.

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